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Lheir king, in his inflicting the penalty of the law on one whom he greatly loved, when he stood in the place of the transgressor. But is not the truth of the case the reverse? Were not the people highly displeased, with the conduct of the king? Surely they could see no propriety, in torturing, next to death, an innocent person, and the best man in the kingdom, while the guilty were suffered to go free.
And a greater discovery, it is said, was made of the king's displeasure at rebellion, than if the criminal herself
had been punished.-But the truth is, instead of having this effect upon the minds of the good people of the kingdom, they were astonished at his conduct, and began to think that the king himself had gone over on the side of rebellion: for say they, if he proceed in this way, by punishing the best men in the kingdom in the room and stead of the worst, shortly, all the good people will be put to death, or covered with bruises, and marks of infamy; and in the end the land will be filled with rebels. Again,
Our author supposes that the wite was guilty of rebellion. Perhaps she had headed a powerful party in opposition to her king and country, with a view to dissolve the laws and overthrow the kingdom. Now can the king crush the rebellion, and give the people a high sense of his abhorrence of it, by torturing almost to death, the good man, the husband, while he lets the rebellious wife escape all punishment?
Besides, the punishing of the husband with torment short of death, when the wise according to the law of the kingdom deserved to be punished with death, renders the scheme which it was designed to illustrate, inconsistent with itself.
Furthermore, if it would be consistent for any goveroment to punish the innocent instead of the guilty; then, it would be consistent for the legislature to make a law, that, if any guilty person should obtain an innocent one to take his place, and be punished in his room, the guilty should be freed from punishment: but doth not every one see that this would put an end ta all order in society, and introduce the greatest confusion? It is evident that such a procedure, would, like the laws of Draco, “under a pretence of banishing vice, annihilate society."
It seems, that after the excellent husband had suffered extreme torture, the rebellious wife might escape, and law and government be maintained; aod that they were unspeakably more happy in each other than they were before, or would have been, had not all this taken place. But how does this illustrate the Bible doctrine of atonement? How can a rebellious wife be unspeakably happy in a husband, who is strongly attached to a government, which she as strongly abhors?
If the husband's suffering for the wife do not prove a means of converting the wife to the love of order, then, the country, through her crimes, is exposed to another rebellion, and the husband to suffer extreme pain again that she inay escape. The objector cannot be consistent, unless he say, that the wife is reduced ta a cordial and sincere repentance. But does the atonement of Christ produce such an effect upon sinners? "I'he atonemerit, aside from the influences of the Divine Spirit, hath no such power over the human heart. Again,
I ask, would it be just in the king to lay that suffer. ing upon the wise which would most certainly terminate in her death, if inflicted upon her when he had accepted of the husband, and laid all that suffering upon him which she deserved? Some doubtless will reply, Her desert of punishment remains the same, as if her husband had not suffered for her. That is true: But, the question is, would it be just in the king to punish the wife with death, for the same crime, for which the husband had suffered in her room? Would her desert of punishment justify the king in laying it upon her under those circumstances?-Even if it would not beinconsistent as it respected her; yet it would most evidently be inconsistent, as it respected the king and his government. A king ought to be just to himself, as well as to his subjects.
Let the story be applied to the case, for which it was designed as an illustration. And I ask, has Christ suffered in the place of mankind, without any mitigation, all the evil which they deserve to suffer? If so, would it be just in the King of heaven to bring sufferings on those very persons, in whose room and stead Christ had suffered all the evil which they deserved? If the King of heaven las accepted of Christ as a substitute, in the room of sinners, and has laid upon him all the evil which they deserve, would it now be just to punish them also? It appears to me, that it would not; it seems therefore that the substitution scheme lays a broad foundation for universal salvation. I conceive, that from a correct statement of the doctrine of atonea ment, no such inference can be drawn.
The author, in the illustration of his idea of the atonement, goes upon the supposition, if I understand him, that every transgression of the law, must be punished: that is, if, in the whole moral system, there be ten thousand degrees of criminality, then, there must be ten thousand degrees of suffering. But is this corl'ect? Must suffering always be commensurate with sinning? Must every transgressor be punished accord. ing to his crimes in his own person, or in his substitute? It
appears to me, not to be necessary, that the degrees of sufferings should be exactly equal to the degrees of trangression. For this vould be inconsistent with the idea of pardon; pardon ever supposes the transgressor to be exempted from deserved punishment
It is a fact, that some men live threescore years and ten, in sin, and then are pardoned, and therefore exempted from all future punishment. Pardon excludes from the moral system infinite evil. What an infini. tude of evil will then be excluded from the universe in consequence of the pardon of the sins of those, to whom Christ in the day of judgment will say, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!
I wish now to propose a plan for the illustration of the atonement, more consistent, as I conceive, than that which has now been under examination. I shall be very brief; but shall endeavour to harmonize it with the text set at the head of this discourse.
Let the virtuous citizen, the benevolent husband, instead of suffering as a substitute for his wife, be appointed by his Majesty, general of the king's forces, to go against the rebel army, of which the wife was a principal leader.
This worthy man, “beloved and esteemed by his king above any other man in the kingdom,” takes his commission as generalissimo of the king's forces, with a mind formed to resist every temptation from bribery, or from any other consideration; and with a fixed determination to crush the rebellion, even if it should cost him his life. He goes forth at the head of his army; he leads them on to face the enemy, and rushes to the battle: in a short time he gains the victory, sup: presses the rebellion, and leaves the leader of the rebel army weltering in his blood, with a mortal bryise upon his head. The general of the king's army receives a number of wounds in his hands and feet, and a severe bruise upon his heel,
Now let proposals be made to the wife, that on her sincere repentance, and faith in the benevolence of her husband, and cordial obedience, a pardon be granted her: and let the proposal be made out of regard to the singular virtue, covenant faithfulness, and real forti. tude of the husband. The offer of pardon is grounded upon the virtue of the husband; the condition of pardon on the part of the wise, true repentance, sincere loyalty to her king, and love and obedience to her benevolent husband. She readily and thankfully accepts of pardon on the conditions proposed.
"T'he husband and wife will now be unspeakably more happy in each other, than they were before, or Christ's Conquest over Satan, a Door of Hope. 321 than they could have been, had not all this taken place.”
In the illustration of the above the wife represents the church, and the husband represents Jesus Christ, the great and glorious Redeemer, who hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Jesus Christ is a victorious Prince; he has bruised the serpent's head, and confounded all the powers of darkness. But we need not repeat what has been already said.
The church, the wife of the lamb, will be eternally filled with the fulness of him, for he is the head of the church, and head over all things thereunto. Between Christ and his church there will be mutual affection and mutual enjoyment. The church will be eternally delighted with the majesty, beauty, and glory of her victorious King and Redeemer. His people will most cheerfully submit to him as their King, who has subdued them to himself, and conquered his and their enemies. In the overthrow of the prince of darkness they will unitedly rejoice forever and ever. The children of Zion will rejoice in their victorious King: and Christ will rejoice over his redeemed church, “as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the Bride."
Christ always preached consolation to his disciples, saying to them, Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world. The disciples of Christ may be called to many and great sufferings in this world, but in all these things they are more than conquerors through him that loved them:-Who hath on his vesture and on his thigh, a name written, King of kings, and Lord of Lords.
If it seem to the reader that this discourse is left too abruptly, he is referred to the 30th sermon.